Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hey, you've got your SCIENCE in my FANTASY!

No, you've got your fantasy in my sci-fi!

There's a lot of talk lately about the resurgence of the old-school or the old school renaissance in RPGs and a call to return back to the roots of science fantasy. In fact some are calling for an escalation of these efforts (which I whole-heartedly embrace BTW). Apparently some people are squeamish about mixing the two, barring a few one-off exceptions. Which, to be honest, is understandable. Especially if you're trying to create a world where technology can't come in and trump your magic system or where an omnipotent race of aliens can easily annihilate your meticulously crafted medieval analogue world. For some, it was less of an issue, but most seem to be more comfortable keeping sci-fi and fantasy separate.

It occurred to me however that if you started with a sci-fi universe and sprinkled in some magic or low-tech, then people don't seem to mind. Mysticism and lasers seemed like two things too good to pass up.

Case in point:
...or so we thought, before 1999. But isn't it funny how (essentially working backwards in a sense) it's easier to think of a sci-fi world in the broad strokes of fantasy, than to try and upgrade an ancient world into a larger universe.

Food for thought I guess. Thoughts?


A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm one of those who wondered aloud about the advisability of getting your chocolate in my peanut butter.

I must reiterate my discomfort, not from the perspective of diminishment of fun, so much as the risk of having ones carefully crafted logic for the existence of magic come crashing down around the ears.

As for the force, it really isn't magic, is it ... its bacteria, or microbes, or something like that. I liked it better when it was magic.

Jay said...

Yeah, the midichlorians took away the mysticism and made it all about biology. I think a lot of fans were soured on that one.

Havard: said...

Pretty interesting addition to the debate. I guess I have always seen Star Wars as a Fantasy Setting with Sci Fi trappings. The Midichlorians were annoying because they broke with that, trying to explain things that really dont make sense and as you say taking away the mysticism.

But your point stand. It's quite possibly easier to accept "this is a sci fi world with magic" than "this is a fantasy world with high tech.." Worth thinking about!

Eli Arndt said...

I agree with the point being made here as well. Aslong as science is the base it is a lot easier to have that as yet scientifically quantified effect that seems "magical" in your world.

Flipping it around and trying to insert tech into a magical world is very much a stronger contract and almost always leads to a sort of distinction of cultures or even a major plot point.

As for The Force being reduced to a genetic symbiotic lifeform. Then why didn't the empire just engineer a big biological weapon to wipe out the Jedi?